AFRICAN Development Bank (AfDB) officials have announced that they intend to spend $2bn on African Continental Free Trade Area (Afcfta) related infrastructure over the next two years.
Founded in 2018, Afcfta is the largest free trade area in the world in terms of the number of participating countries since the formation of the World Trade Organisation. Involving 54 nations, the agreement was brokered by the African Union and was signed on by 44 of its 55 member states in Kigali, Rwanda on March 21, 2018.
AfDB president Dr Akinwumi Adesina, said Afcfta was a massive opportunity for the African continent to grow its economy and further deepen regional integration. He stressed that the Afcfta must be an industrialised and manufacturing zone for high valued manufactured products for wealth creation.
Dr Adesina added: “For the potential to be realised fully, it is very important for the private sector to play a big role and the AfDB is supporting the Afcfta to do that. You cannot trade if there is no infrastructure to trade like roads, rails, ports and highways and those are the things the AfDB has been doing. We did not wait for the Afcfta.
“The work of the bank is at the core of driving regional integration for Africa. In the next two years we expect to spend an additional two billion dollars on Afcfta related infrastructure to further deepen regional integration.”
He said the bank was driving its industrialisation strategy to support value chains and help Africa build its manufacturing capacity. In addition, he reiterated the bank’s investment of $3bn in the pharmaceutical industry and the work on textile and garments supported by its private sector group.
“We are supporting the development of the special agro industrial processing zones that will allow African countries industrialise their agriculture and add value to every product they produce. Regional value chains that are well supported with infrastructure and will allow Africa unlock its capacity in all of those areas,” Dr Adesina said.
In addition, Dr Adesina recalled that the bank provided $4.8m to help to establish the Afcfta secretariat in Ghana. He also recalled the $40bn the bank spent on infrastructure development across Africa from 2016 to 2019.
He further said the bank was funding an African financial market linkage project that links stock exchanges all across Africa. In addition, he added that the bank was linking markets through its project where the total amount of capitalisation was about $1.8trn.